Money Woes

I only know a very few ritual abuse survivors who don’t have problems with money. How they manage to have a healthy relationship with it, I have no idea.

There are about sixteen different reasons why I have messed up ideas about money. Probably the factor with the most profound influence is low self-esteem. I don’t think I’m worth very much; if I had been worth something, I would have been treated well by my parents. So therefore I’m not worth spending money on. (I know that doesn’t really make sense, but it seems to make sense to me.)

In the supermarket, I look for marked-down items. I don’t buy clothes if they aren’t on sale. Actually, I prefer to buy them at thrift stores, especially if they are on sale. I used to mend my socks and underwear, but I have gotten lazy in my old age. Now I just wear them with holes.

While I’m stingy with myself, I’m pretty generous with other people. Since others are worth more than I am, they would obviously make better use of money and things than I do. They get the cupcake with the most icing every time because they deserve it, while I barely deserve the air I breathe.

This attitude is reinforced by guilt from watching others get hurt by the cult and not being able to help them. Now, in an effort to re-enact that scenario and make a happy ending, I have the urge to help others almost compulsively. It’s usually not good for me and usually not good for the people I’m trying to help, who, after all, are perfectly competent grown-ups, not little kids being tortured by a cult.

Finances make me very anxious. I was taught that I would not be able to support myself as an adult and that I would always have to be dependent on the cult.  I never worked as a kid, not even baby sitting or pulling weeds. I didn’t have my first job until I was twenty!

Believing, deep down, that I never will be able to support myself has made me worry inordinately that I won’t ever have enough. At the same time, I feel money is nasty and dirty and I don’t want any part of it. I think anybody who has been prostituted as a child or has been used in pornography views money very, very negatively.

(Actually, money in itself has no moral value. It’s just a tool. It can be used for good purposes or bad purposes or just so-so purposes. It’s up to us to use it differently than those that abused us.)

Since I’m so anxious, I have a real hard time keeping track of things. How much is in the bank? What bills are due? Overdue? How much interest does the credit card company charge? All these practical things swim through my mind like fuzzy out-of-focus jellyfish. Now you see them, now you don’t. Each time I sit down to sort things out, I have to start from scratch because I just can’t retain anything.

Then there are survivors whose alters all think they can buy things. Each purchase is reasonable, but when you have twenty or thirty inner people spending a couple of dollars here and there, it sure can add up. Many of them are child parts, and don’t understand budgets or deferred gratification. Sometimes one alter will hide cash to prevent another from spending it, and then not let on where it is.  Or forget where it is. Cooperation, while leading to less chaos over the long haul, is bound to mean short-term deprivation.

Money can be used self-destructively, as anybody with several maxed out credit cards can tell you. Stealing is another self-destructive way to try and make up for childhood deprivation. How many of us have shoplifted, not because we needed something or wanted to fence it, but just to flirt with getting caught and punished? How many of us have done this as adults?

I have. I didn’t do it to get caught; I did it because I thought that was the only way I could get things I wanted. As a kid, I thought I didn’t have the money to buy those things and I knew better than to ask my parents to get them for me. Whenever I let on I wanted something, they made it a point not to let me have it. I stopped shoplifting in my twenties (hmm, that was right after I had my first real job.) I occasionally get tempted even today.

Lately, I’ve been trying to change my attitude. It’s not helpful to tell myself I am a mess and will never get it right. Far better to think, “Wow! With all I have going against me, look what I just did!” Each time I react with pride at my accomplishment it’s a little easier to do it the next time, whether it’s calculating taxes or buying a nice tomato. And I each time I react with pride I kick a little hole in my negative self-image. With this attitude, there’s no reason to procrastinate – I’ll just catch up on the bills and feel great.

Although I admit that’s easier said than done.

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8 thoughts on “Money Woes

  1. Excellent post..When you think about how difficult money usually is for non-survivors, the affects for survivors are often much more deep and complex. You expressed this so well.

    1. Thank you!

      And sheesh, I didn’t mention that most pple in the US have a hard time with money. Even those that have enough, or way more than enough, have some squirrelly ideas and emotions that give them grief on a regular basis.

      1. Yes, exactly. But you really wouldn’t have. It was about survivors.
        Ty for the post. It gave me some great insight. It is a topic most ppl don’t talk about, but really need to.

        1. Still thinking. How our issues lie on top of “normal” pple’s issues — I’m just a girl, I can’t make as much money as a man. Because I can’t earn as much, I don’t deserve as much as a man. I have to defer to men. Then us — men have all the power. They can hurt me whenever they want. Whatever money I make, they take away.

          I remember as a kid, my father showing me a $1000 bill. He said “Look at this. You will probably never see another one in your life.” He was right, I haven’t. Was it payment for some porn I was used for? If so, I must have been really good, because that was a shit load of money in 1950. Didn’t get a cut, of course.

          You are right, we don’t talk about money. Only my therapist has heard about that incident. Well, now it is public!

          1. Wow! That really hit me. I think a lot about how my Father paid for so much of our property. Other parts have let me in on how..they paid for it…so hard..that part is still so hard to think about..
            I was always one to be really strict with my finances. I didn’t make a lot as a social worker, but of course, I was helping people. That was all that mattered. I was also, the giver, you spoke of.
            I still buy things only on sale. I am trying to get out of that all the time.
            Some of the other ways you write about helped me to understand someone else I am very close to..and of course, me…as well..
            This is just such an insightful post…I think there were times I would use men…in the past..wow..hmmm.. just replaying my past..just so much to digest with this…
            Really good stuff here, Jean…so glad you commented on my blog..that is about the only way I can find blogs..and so glad I found yours …xxx -CC

            1. I’m so sorry your father did that to you. It must hurt like hell to think of his property.

              Changed my mind. There is nothing wrong with buying things at a thrift store — it’s recycling and good for the planet! But every now and then it would be great to get something new and shiny as a treat, without guilt.

              I too was a social worker, the most satisfying and well-paying work I ever had. Way better than baby sitting!

              Here’s a listing of lots of blogs you can explore. http://ra-info.org/for-and-by-survivors/blogs/

            2. Thanks, Jean.
              BTW, I’m sorry. I thought about that comment all night. I was so insensitive to go right to me. I’m sorry for you as well. I hope that came through.
              I love thrift shops, too. Lol! Every Wednesday all color tags but one 50% off hahaha
              It’s fun..
              Thanks for the list and being you… 🙂
              xxx

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